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12 Red Flags for Marriage Fraud, Part I

12 Red Flags for Marriage Fraud, Part I

If you are a US citizen or legal permanent resident (green card holder), and you are looking to get married and bring your spouse to the US as a legal permanent resident (LPR), US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is going to be on high alert for marriage fraud.

There are certainly some people who try to take advantage of the US system which allows the spouse of a US citizen or LPR to also obtain their green card--a status which would grant permanent entry and work authorization in the United States to a foreign national, as well as the ability to eventually seek to become a naturalized citizen if so desired. Due to the serious threat marriage fraud could potentially pose to national security, there are severe penalties for committing this crime, including up to five years in prison, fines of up to $250,000, and deportation. Additionally, government officials tend to assume that marriages where one of the spouses will receive LPR status are fraudulent, and the burden of proof to show that the marriage is real will rest on the couple's shoulders. In this two-part blog, we will detail 13 red flags that may cause USCIS to suspect your marriage petition is fraudulent. None of these red flags will necessarily result in further investigation on its own, but many of these factors combined could be a strong indication of marriage fraud. 1) Couple doesn't speak the same language If one spouse speaks only English, and the other speaks only Spanish, officials will likely question the legitimacy of the marriage. If the couple can not speak to one another, it is highly suspicious that they actually fell in love and want to start a genuine life together based on legitimate pretenses. 2) Numerous major differences in background One or more major differences in the backgrounds of the couple could lead to questioning of the legitimacy of the marriage petition. For example, if the spouses come from different cultures, practice different religions, have major differences in educational background, come from different races, or come from different social classes, all of these factors could cause officials to suspect fraud simply because statistics show that it is less likely for people from such different backgrounds to form the strong relationships that can lead to legitimate marriages. 3) Not living together Not only does a couple have to prove that their marriage is legitimate, but they also have to prove that they are making a good faith effort to begin a life together. One of the biggest signs of this is cohabitation. If a couple is married but not living together, officials may suspect fraud. 4) Lack of interaction between spouses

A couple may live together, but immigration officials may see it as a purposeful ploy to trick them if the schedules of the couple cause them to rarely, if ever, interact. For example, if one spouse is always working while the other is home, and vice versa, this can be a red flag.

Check back soon for Part II of this blog where we will detail eight more red flags that may cause USCIS to suspect marriage fraud. For help with your marriage petition or more information about family-based immigration, please contact Landerholm Immigration today.

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